View Full Version : 2 man deer drives

May 31, 2001, 11:16 AM
Has anyone had any experience with a 2 person deer drive. I'm mainly a bird hunter who is going to go out for his first deer hunt this fall, assuming that I will get drawn here in AZ. The guy that I am hunting with suggested that we try a 2 man drive, which neither he nor I have ever done.

The idea is that one of us, the shooter, will sit on a hill or ridge while the other walks below and tries to get any deer in the area moving. Has anyone ever tried this? I read an article on it in an old copy of 'American Hunter' and it seems like it would work well in an area with a low deer density like AZ.

The other option would be for both of us to sit on a hill with our binoculars. It's what most people do, but if the deer aren't moving, it's hard to see them behind all the brush.


May 31, 2001, 12:53 PM

Think of it like blocking for phesants. ;)

Essentially you've got the idea. One person sits in a place of vantage with a good view of expected deer "get away" lanes. The other does a still hunt (which really isn't) by slowly stalking through where the deer are likely to be hanging out. A good still-hunter (watching wind, etc.) can likely bag one that way. If not, he may push deer in front offering a shot for the "sniper."

Try this through several different locations/habitats throughout the day as deer do move & bed down in some of the strangest places.

Another way is for the two hunters to walk in single file, with perhaps 100 yards separation. Deer will often circle around & back track which may offer a shot for the trailing hunter. This method is best done by very experienced folk who know where the other is at all times - possibility of a shooting mishap is high - especially in heavier cover.

Traditionally, sitting & glassing at dawn/dusk can pay off with minimal walking as deer usually move more during these times. Especially in more rugged terain, looking is much easier than walking & pays off better too.

May 31, 2001, 12:57 PM
Drives can be done with any number of persons. The basic idea is to get the buck, elk, whatever, moving so you know it is there. I use to play dog for a group of 6 hunters total, of which 2 were disabled enough not to be able to walk more than a few feet. The group would drop the walkers off and disburse along areas the animal would most likely head if disturbed by the walkers. At a set time the walkers would start walking toward a set point(like two walkers going up either side of a canyon or a walker going up a ravine). An important issue is to know where everyone is so no one shoots toward someone else. You can even drive with one person if the drive ends in the ability to see where the buck comes out and if you can get a good shot. Being the driver in my personal experience has given me an edge as I have picked up a nice 6 point royal elk and 4 point 250# mule buck on drives where I kicked them up and shot them before the could get along to the watchers. So, in your situation you would drop off one at the bottom and the other would go to a place that affords the best view and shot for the path most likely for the deer to travel. Good plan! Knowing the area is a must so scouting the section the day before and going over the plan is best. We use to hunt for a week so we would go to the same places and after awhile learn how best to hunt each section of the area we hunted. Lots of fun. MWT

Art Eatman
May 31, 2001, 01:42 PM
There's no such thing as "always", with deer; I'm generalizing, okay?

Bigger bucks tend to lie up around the downwind side of a ridge, just below the crest. Typically, they'll be near a saddle. The idea is that if something comes from behind, they'll smell it. Anything coming up from below, they'll see or hear.

When scared, they'll run uphill and upwind. Since a saddle in a ridge usually is brushier than the other terrain, they're hidden when they practice not being there. (Does and little bucks are subject to go any old whichaway. Don't watch does and little bucks--you'll miss seeing "Ol' Biggie".)

Another bedding area can be in the bottoms, but the behavior when "Run!" is the rule will be the same.

For two guys, then, one can walk just at the downwind edge of a ridge, being pretty quiet. The other can walk just above the bottom of a canyon (optimum) or bust brush in it. The guy up above is most likely to get a shot.

Sometimes a buck sees no choice but to head into brush which is downwind and downhill. The odds are he'll circle into the wind and head uphill toward a saddle. He'll quit running and settle into a walk. So, cut across the circle and wait. "Head'im off at the pass!"

Even solo, working fairly high can be productive--particularly in areas with shooting and hunter-traffic. If that doesn't work fairly quickly, then you may well have a smart old feller hiding down in the thickest bottom.

Good luck,


Arizona Fusilier
May 31, 2001, 08:50 PM
I've been deer hunting here in Arizona for about eight years now. My experience is mostly with the Coues deer down south, in very different terrain than where the mulies live up near Flagstaff or in the Rim country. Where and exactly what variety are you hunting? I know you haven't been drawn yet, but what did you put in for?

May 31, 2001, 10:08 PM
I live in Tucson and we are going to put in for whitetail in unit 33. We are going to put in together, but I was on my honeymoon from May 3rd to May 28th and while I was gone, his boss sent him to Japan and he hasn't gotten back yet. We still have a few more weeks till the deadline. I guess if I don't hear from him by the end of next week, I'll put in on my own.

It'll be my first deer hunt, so I'm more concerned with getting something than getting a 'monster' buck. The success rates are pretty low everywhere out here and I'd really like to get something my first time out.

For the duo drive technique, I've heard differing opinions about the use of wind and stealth. One opinion is that stealth is very important. The one walking should keep the wind in his face and move quietly to sneak up on the deer. The other opinion in that the one walking should keep the wind at his back and make as much of a racket as possible to get the deer running. The deer will only go about 100 yards and then will stop to look behind then and the man on the ridge can take that opportunity to take a shot.

The opinion here seems to be that stealth is better, but in a place with a pretty low density of deer, like Arizona, I'm afraid that we may be walking by some deer without seeing them.

If it was legal, I'd just stake out the athletic field at work. I found a bunch deer poo on the field while I was doing my exercises today.


Oh and a non hunting related tip for everyone. When you are barbecuing, wear your shoes. I cooked part of my foot today stepping on an ember.

Art Eatman
May 31, 2001, 11:24 PM
When working a brushy bottom, popping rocks together as you walk can persuade Bucky to get out of bed.

Ever used a sling? That gives you a heckuva range to throw rocks into and out across a canyon from the rim. They're easy to make from a pair of bootlaces and a 3"-4" square of leather. One on lace, I make a loop for my wrist. On the other, after the proper length is figured out, I tie a knot. Swing; at the proper time, turn loose of the knot.

While I was more specific before about mule deer, the behavior pattern will apply to white tails in certain terrain. For instance, in Texas, west of San Antonio around the Uvalde area and northwards.

:), Art

Arizona Fusilier
May 31, 2001, 11:58 PM
First, I will not misrepresent me experience, as I have only one Coues deer (that's the variety of whitetail you will be pursuing) to my credit. Using the techniques I describe, we almost always flush does, so the basic concept is valid in my opinion. I have not hunted in 33, but have hunted Javelina on the other side of the San Pedro in 32. I hunt deer in 36B, but I think once you survey the terrain you'll feel my comments are valid.

There are very few nice round hills or mountains in Southern Arizona, and they are not heavily wooded (unless you're near Mount Lemmon?). The norm is very steep, horizontal, and often parallel ridgelines. Northern slopes tend to have more vegetation than the southern slopes. Very rocky, with a lot of cacti on the lower elevations, offering pretty decent long range observation. Early morning/late afternoon tactics should have you on the high ground, scoping out as much terrain as possible. My buddy and I often see movement this way, but planning a stalk in a timely manner is difficult, because they are several hundred yards away, and the terrain is difficult and relatively open.

When they movement stops is when you want to start your driving. Here is where I think you'll find it is not practical for one man to stay in one location. You just can't see most of the possible turf the deer may be moving to. We usually have one of us go low, and the other parallel his movement higher up on a ridgline. That way either one of us has a chance to see what the other may flush. Where ridglines are close together, we might walk parallel ridgelines, and have the advantage of looking into the compartments on both sides.

The "beater" should work draws or reentrants between slopes, as they are more vegetated and deer often bed down in them. When the draw levels off, becomes more sandy, and your in what is more properly a wash, stop and do something else. These deer like to stay high, and don't spend a lot of time in true washes. We usually walk into the wind. Art's comments on the downwind side of the slope, with being able to smell what he can't see on the otherside, are right on.

They don't run far. Typically, you'll flush one at a distance too long for a shot, and they'll make a bee-line for the other side of the ridge. Once on the other side, however, they'll usually turn and parallel the ridgeline, preferring to stay high. They'll also slow down, and resume a leisurely pace shortly after cresting the ridge. Here is where you play the guessing game of "did they zig or did they zag?". You'll have to survey the lay of the land, with precious little concealment, and plan your next move quickly yet carefully. This is what makes hunting these deer the great challenge that it is.

If you do end up close to Mount Lemmon, or terrain not like the high-altitude desert I described, then what I have to say might not apply that much, but most of the time it fits the bill. The important thing is to adapt your two-man tactics to what you see on the ground, and not just the sage advice you might get here or elsewhere.

Perhaps the best advice I can give is to take the lessons of those whose experience is limited to the Eastern Whitetail with a grain of salt. Absolutely no disrespect to any of my fellow TLFers, and especially those with more bucks under their belt (which is almost everbody!) But the fact is most people looking at the place where I hunt can hardly imagine there is ANYTHING fuzzy living out there, let alone deer! The pursuit of the Coues deer of Southern Arizona is a very unique hunting experience.

June 1, 2001, 08:50 AM
I'd forgotten all about using a sling. We used a slingshot - same deal.

Personally, I prefer walking into the wind & sneak-hunting. It affords the driver an (better) opportunity for a shot & count on it - if there's deer in there, you will move them.

As far as "just pushing does" goes, many (most) times does will bunch up & move out together while the buck(s) take their own sweat time & paths. Bucks do use does as decoys. As you're watching the does flock on out, the buck's sneaking away to somewhere else.

AF makes a good point about eastern vs western. Mulies & whitetails are totally different critters ...

June 1, 2001, 10:57 AM
Thanks for all the advice guys. We will probably get GPS units and 2 way radios to help with communication and to help avoid mishaps. Hunter orange will be worn too.

Can anyone suggest a decient pair of not-too-expensive binoculars? Good optics are never cheap, but I don't want to have to break the bank.

Does anyone here is a bipod? What do people use to help their aim in the field?


June 1, 2001, 03:18 PM
Ole whitetails down here have a habit of lying up in the thickest brair patch they can find. Some of these are almost impassable to a man, and if you don't amost step on the deer it won't move.......the old bucks more-so than others. One way that works over 90% of the time when it is not dog season, is to get a hunter and have him take a gallon plastic milk or water jug and put about 1 or 2 inches of pea gravel in the bottom and just walk into the thick spots and shake that jug making that rattling sound. They just CAN'T stand it, and take of like they are shot ................. which hopefully they will be by one of the standers. When its dog season ole Blue gets em out right fine!

Art Eatman
June 1, 2001, 05:07 PM
Fuzzy, I carried some inexpensive Bushnell binocs from WalMart, for years.

As far as the shooting, I always just suggest a bunch of .22 practice, working on eye-trigger finger coordination. Beer cans at 100 yards--if you can hit them regularly, offhand, you're well on your way to doing just fine.


June 1, 2001, 07:13 PM
Too, if you're sitting, a single stick (if there ARE any in the desert) that you find handy by your stand works pretty good as a steadying kinda thing + you always got your knees.

I'll always use a field-expedient rest if there's one handy.

Art's right though, when you're chasing cans around at 100 yds consistently & off-hand ....

We'd use the slingshots to shoot into the farside of cover hoping to push something out our way. You'd be amazed at what little cover a deer can hide in.

June 2, 2001, 01:36 AM
Only problem is, the more of them beer cans you empty to shoot at the worse your shooting gets! :)